Non-invasive Shade Tree?

green-101October 2, 2008

This seems to be a great forum for garden questions. After 3 weeks of combing nurseries, books and the web, I still have not found the right tree for my yard.

Two years ago in Gilbert, the top half of my beautiful 8-year old Ficus Natida froze. I was tempted to trim and let it re-grow but the roots were shallow and headed for the sidewalk, and the side opposite the exposed roots was top-heavy and leaning toward a neighbor's house.

I would like to find a shade tree that can safely be planted within 4-5 feet of a sewer line on one side and almost as close to a sidewalk on the other. The perfect tree would be evergreen or, if deciduous, have large leaves that all drop at once and not produce noticeable pollen or seeds. I prefer dark green leaves and good shade (south side of the house) but hopefully not so much shade that grass won't grow under it. A good size would be 20-30 ft. tall and wide and it should require minimal trimming (the kind I can do myself).

I've learned a bit about how to stake, and when not to, so shouldn't have the leaning problem again. As much as I enjoy the lawn, I can take it out if necessary to get deep rooting on a good tree.

Thank you for any suggestions.

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Try an Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia sisso) of Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) -- both fit your requirements, although the Pistacia might have less invasive roots for your sewer line. You will also enjoy the fall colors of the Pistacia

Whatever you do, do not buy Eucalyptus or Acacia species -- they will tear into and clog your sewer faster than you can call roto-rooter!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 12:53AM
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I don't recommend a Sisso. We had one for over 10 years on the northside of our house. Our neighbors found that the trees roots were causing damage to their walkway. We immediately had the tree removed. They sued us for $1750 in damages. Our insurance company said that we were not liable. We offered them other options but the neighbor would not budge. Not a nice thing to go through. We didn't 'plan' where the roots would grow. They extended at least 30 feet in several directions. This IS a very invasive tree!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 6:26PM
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velvet mesquite or honey mesquite...

The chinese pistache mentioned above is an excellent choice and once established can be as drought tolerant as the native mesquites. It's a lot "cleaner" and prettier in the fall, too.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 5:37PM
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Oh, I missed your size requirements.

The mesquites would dominate an area like that too greatly.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2008 at 5:40PM
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what about a citris tree? most of them flower in the spring but they are medium sized trees and easy to maintain. there are also 2 different trees along the US 60 (on the southside between gilbert and dobson area) that are only a few years old. no idea what kinds though one tree grows upward in a "puffy raincloud" pattern and has lots of small round leaves like a eucalyptus tree or birch tree from the midwest. it doesnt look like a desert tree and it does not bloom, but i'd expect it reaches 40-50 ft at adult so roots could be too big eventually. the other is definately a desert tree and has leaves like a jacoranda tree would (a million tiny leaves make up one bigger leaf) and it grows in an umbrella pattern and provides lots of shade but should support grass too. it blooms yellowish flowers twice a year for 2-3 weeks, and has a much thinner trunk even as adult- umbrella canopy 10-20 ft wide. i suggest these because i just moved into a house (that faces east so lots of sun in morn and afternoon) and i was also looking for small shade trees. these met my needs for shade and size. i plan to start a vineyard so i need to let some sun in:)

    Bookmark   November 13, 2008 at 5:06PM
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